Slowing Down to Speed Up

Don’t you hate it when your sitting at a red light and you can see the light just a few blocks down the road turn green, and think, “If this light would turn green and I floor it, I might just make the next light”? But, low and behold, just before you get within 200 feet of the next light, it turns red on you.

It’s frustrating isn’t it? Don’t you wish you could have known what was going to occur so you could have driven slower or more cautiously?

Well, this past week I was skimming the internet and found an interesting video that caught my attention. It was, from what I could gather, a legitimate commercial from a well known car company that has created the technology for a car to know when on-coming street lights will turn from green to red and visa-versa.

The whole premise of this new technology is that we will no longer have to speed up to slow down at a given intersection, but will, in fact, be able to know how long a red light will be, or when the green light will turn yellow, and slow down or speed up appropriately. In a sense, there will be no more senseless speeding up and stopping, or angrily waiting for the light to turn green. There will be a purpose to our waiting and a way to preparing for it when it begins or ends.

With this analogy in mind, I want to share with you five ways we can grow in our seasons of waiting that will prepare us more for when we can/have to go full speed.

Read Like Crazy

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.”

No matter what your field of study is or your vocational calling—whether it be business management, the arts, nursing, pastoral work, etc.— reading (both fiction and non-fiction!) is absolutely essential to growing in knowledge and understanding in our seasons of waiting. It is a rigorous and delightful practice that engages our imaginations and also our intellects.

Reading encourages us to grow, be challenged, and be prepared for the future.

If we are to be prepared when our seasons of waiting and anticipation are over, we must be prepared with fresh knowledge and ideas. We must know the ins and outs of our vocation. We must seek after truth no matter where it comes from. We cannot expect to hit the ground running if we are not learning from those individuals who have already wore our shoes.

So when you are waiting, learn to grow in your desire to learn from others.

Pray Like Crazy

In seasons of waiting, our most natural default is to lose heart. When we are waiting, we get antsy. We get nervous. We get scared. We get frustrated. And for many of us we begin to forget why we are waiting in the first place.

Prayer is a marvelous gift from our Creator God, Jesus Christ. We have been given divine access to the King of Kings. The Creator and Maker of the entire universe has created a way for us to be in constant dialogue with Him.

And who better to speak to when we are in a season of waiting than the Creator of that difficult season?

God loves to make us wait. Why? Because he is a patient God, and he knows (like most parents) that when you make a child wait you begin to see where their trust falls. For some of us our trust falls right into the hands of Jesus. In times of waiting and patience, we gracious accept God’s timing and merciful. But for the rest of us normal mortals, when waiting occurs that is longer than we expected, we begin to distrust God. We fail to see His provision. We fail to recognize His plans. And when that times comes (and I assure it will) we must lean into the presence of God through diligent prayer.

Praying like crazy sets our affections on God. It causes us to look at the idols of our lives with the lenses of Christ’s perfection and providence. It reminds us that God is in control and that he is sanctifying us through our difficult and troubling seasons of waiting.

Dream Like Crazy

A few months ago I met with an older pastor to talk about my church plant. When I shared with him some of the discouraging comments I had received from other pastors and leaders he gave me one piece of advice that I will never forget.

He said to me, “Josh, every time someone tells you that something is impossible or that God won’t do that, write it in your journal. Document their lack of faith, and when God does the miraculous—when His Kingdom comes is power—remember those comments. Remember those individuals who attempted to crush your dreams, and praise God that He is bigger than anything you could ever imagine.”

When your waiting and growing and learning and praying, you are most likely coming up with amazing ideas. If your like me, I cannot stop dreaming. I am always thinking of some new idea or some new way of doing something. I am never content with what is…which is oftentimes problematic…but oh well.

That is what a season of waiting is all about: to dream!

We were created with the cognitive abilities to dream and dream BIG. God created us with imaginations and desires. Therefore, in our seasons of waiting, God is often using them to prepare us for something great.

He doesn’t want us to run out of the gate unprepared or unaware of what we are to do next. Rather, he wants us to dream big and dream with Him. He wants us to brainstorm with Him. He wants us to dream up stupid ideas and not so stupid ideas. In the end, our seasons of waiting are wonderful gifts to dream big and not deal with the consequences.

So dream big and with godly and Christ-center anticipation.

Serve Like Crazy

If we have read like cray, prayed like crazy, and served like crazy, to some extent we probably think that we have it all figured out. This is an all to common reality for students in Seminary and future pastoral leaders.

Many of us spend so much time in the class room, reading books, and dreaming, that we often think that we are the answer to the world’s problems. We think that our books will change the landscape of evangelicalism. Or, that our church will somehow fix the homelessness issue in America. Or, that we will be the first person to perfectly blend liturgical worship with genuine praise and emotions, while being “missional” and “organic.” But the reality is that God is already working throughout His Bride. He is already doing amazing things within and through His people, without or without us.

When we serve we are given a fresh perceptive on what is already happening in the world. Serving humbles us. Serving reminds us we are small. Serving reminds us that it’s not all about us. Serving places our dreams and our desires into perspective. And in fact, serving often reveals that our dreams and things we are learning are already being done throughout the world.

So, when you are waiting and growing and learning and hurting, serve and know that God is already going amazing things throughout the world and he wants you to be a part of them.

Rest Like Crazy

Lastly, understand that a season of waiting and growth is a blessing from God. Many of us who are incredibly busy plead and beg God for a season of waiting and growth. We want more than anything else to just wait and learn. We would kill to just relax and chill.

So when you are waiting, do not blame God for your circumstances. Don’t get frustrated that you are having to slow down to a cruising altitude. But see it as a gift. Enjoy the view!

Enjoy what your culture has to offer! Enjoy your spouse and your children. Enjoy good food and good drink. Enjoy sleeping and resting. Enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy sports.

And remind yourself everyday that these joys are gifts of God, they are NOT God. They are but shadows of the true reality of our glorious hope in the resurrected Messiah.